St. Vrain Valley Schools Hosts MATE Aquatic Robotics World Championships

Vanicia Thomas (left) and Sebastian Delgado Martinez (right) are Erie High School sophomores and compete with the Innovation Center Aquatic Robotics team.

Erie High School sophomores Vanicia Thomas (left) and Sebastian Delgado Martinez (right) compete with the Innovation Center Aquatic Robotics team.

St. Vrain students competed among the world’s best, but it was the connection with others and experience that mattered most. 

The Aquatics Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools recently served as a hub of innovation and creativity as it hosted the highly anticipated MATE World Championships. From June 22 to 24, this prestigious event brought together students from across the globe to demonstrate their remarkable talents and achievements in the field of underwater robotics. Beyond the showcases of competition and technical prowess, the championships served as a transformative platform, fostering cross-cultural understanding, collaboration, and the formation of lifelong friendships.

Student in front of monitors depicting underwater robotics field.

The journey to host the World Championships began over a year ago when the Innovation Center recognized the potential of the district’s brand new Aquatic Center. Equally important was the incredible work being done by students within the district, particularly in the areas of conservation, robotics, and real-life experiences. This combination set the stage for a truly extraordinary event.

Nate Wilcox, a passionate teacher and advocate for education and robotics, spoke highly of the MATE ROV Competition, which focuses on real-world applications. “Students competing in the event had to think like entrepreneurs and engineers, utilizing their skills in computer science, electromechanical engineering, fabrication, design, and communication to build the best remotely operated vehicles (ROVs),” said Wilcox. “The competition’s multidisciplinary approach encouraged students to demonstrate their abilities not only in technical aspects but also in marketing, safety documentation, corporate responsibility, and engineering presentations.”

The impact of the MATE World Championships reached far beyond the competition itself. Oceans, responsible for at least 50% of the world’s oxygen and with a significant influence on the global climate, affect every individual, regardless of their geographical location. Even land-locked regions like Colorado have valuable use cases that impact lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and ponds. The competition highlighted the importance of preserving and understanding these bodies of water, raising awareness among participants about the significance of environmental stewardship.

The event also provided an invaluable opportunity for students to connect on a global scale. Vanicia Thomas, a sophomore at Erie High School, described her life-changing experience as a member of the Innovation Center Aquatic Robotics team, “Starting from ground one, the team built their robot together, regardless of prior experience.” During the World Championships, Thomas had the chance to meet students from Egypt, who were experiencing their first trip outside their country. Despite the competitive nature of the event, Thomas extended her hand in friendship, “It was just so amazing because we’re all the same grade and we all have similar hobbies. The only thing is that they live millions of miles away from us. The team from Egypt is coming over to dinner and we’re going to go on a hike in Boulder.” The bond formed between students from different parts of the world, who shared similar interests, showcased the power of robotics in breaking down barriers and fostering understanding.

Two female students place their ROV into the pool.

Sebastian Delgado Martinez, another student from Erie High School and on the Innovation Center team, echoed Thomas’ sentiments, “The other teams were all really nice and even though they were the competition, they helped us when we suffered troubles during the matches.” This sense of collaboration and sportsmanship demonstrated the true essence of the robotics community. He emphasized the remarkable connections forged during the event. Meeting people from different countries who shared the same interests was a truly enlightening experience. 

The success of the MATE World Championships extended beyond the competition floor. It was a testament to the outstanding collaboration within the St. Vrain Valley School District. The district’s commitment to supporting the event, the Innovation Center, Silver Creek High School (where the Aquatics Center is located), the many departments supporting the event, and the participating students was evident. Their willingness to work together across departments showcased a culture of collaboration, where individuals provided critical value to the community.

A group of students point to monitors as they watch the underwater robotics competition live stream.

Over 60 teams from 11 countries and 18 U.S. states converged at the Aquatic Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools, creating a sense of pride and honor within the local community as this district served as host to the international participants.The event allowed the work done at the Innovation Center and in the district to shine on a global stage, demonstrating the power of public education. The exposure to universities, after-school programs, and other high schools reinforced the district’s commitment to excellence in education.

The MATE World Championships not only celebrated the achievements of the brightest young minds in underwater robotics but also acted as a catalyst for building bridges across borders and empowering students to become compassionate, collaborative, and globally aware citizens of the future.

To find out more about MATE, please visit

To see the full album of pictures, please visit 

St. Vrain Valley Schools